The Modern Country Garden at RHS Hyde Hall

With restaurants and pubs open and better weather on the way, families across the city are looking forward to spending time together to celebrate Father’s Day.

There are wonderful pubs and restaurants in and around Chelmsford and you probably already have this bit covered, but if you’re looking for other experiences to make your dad’s day memorable alongside or instead of a lunch out, read on.

1) Blockbuster plant show

If your dad’s a keen gardener, you can’t go too far wrong with a trip to the final day of the RHS Garden Hyde Hall Plant Show. This show usually takes place at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London and it’s coming to Chelmsford for the first time.

There’ll be plant displays and exhibitions from specialist nurseries and you’ll be able to buy as many early summer blooms as you can carry back to your car. There’s even a crèche which will keep an eye on your plants while you admire the gardens or stop for a sandwich. Book your timed tickets on the Hyde Hall website.

2) Book a private tour

Private tours are a great way of making someone feel special and you might even be able to fit these in before or after your plans for a family lunch or dinner.

Essex Waterways and Chelmer Cruises are running private boat tours along the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation for up to 12 people in two groups of six, or two separate families. Cruises start at Paper Mill Lock and you can arrange anything from a 2-hour jaunt to an all-day river outing. Food and drinks, from a full buffet to a cream tea, can be ordered too, so you can dine on deck at your leisure.

If you’d prefer to stay on dry land, you could take a private carriage tour of Hylands Estate. Hawthorn Heavy Horses are putting on hour-long tours of the historic park for up to 6 people with one of their rare breed heavy horses. Tours start at 10am and you can book them online or by phone on 01245 632230. The Hylands Estate Farmers’ Market is running on Father’s Day too, giving you an excellent excuse for a spot of shopping while you’re there.

3) Breakfast with a view

Breakfast with the birds at Hanningfield Reservoir

If you and your dad are morning people, you could opt for an early Father’s Day breakfast with an uplifting view.

You can bag a spot next to the fragrant Rose Garden at The Hive Café in Oaklands Park from 8am, and in the city centre the Central Park Café is open to serve you a coffee next to the lake from 8.30am.

Head to Hanningfield Reservoir’s Café on the Water for a bacon sandwich and some bird watching from 9am and you’ll feel your blood pressure going down as soon as you step into the tranquil garden of The Bakehouse which overlooks fields near Loves Green for your first coffee of the day.

4) Family golf

Chelmsford is blessed with good golf courses, so if your dad is a fan, there’s plenty of choice.

Families young and old can tee off together at the West Park Golf Centre with adventure golf at Rascal Bay, which has everything from an erupting volcano, river crossings and a rather grumpy pirate (we’ll let you discover this bit for yourself). There’s also a mature pitch and putt course just next door, with an 18- or 9-hole option and you can even play footgolf there if that’s your thing.

5) Spa days for dads

facial massager with gua sha on timber tray near rosemary
Dads deserve pampering too

Fathers are often overlooked when it comes to pampering, but masks, massages and manicures shouldn’t just be for mums. Most spas in Chelmsford offer a wide range of treatments for men, so it could be the time to introduce your dad to the wonders of a head massage and a facial.

Not all salons open on Sundays, but if you live in Great Baddow, Acacia Beauty & Aesthetics and Just Pampered both have extensive male grooming ranges and they’re both open on June 20.

6) Space to relax

If your dad loves to read and the best possible present is a bit of time to himself this Father’s Day, look no further than the Essex Book Festival’s online bookshop. Their microsite on is as thoughtfully curated as the festival itself with dozens of books to suit readers of every kind.

This year the festival has chosen ‘The Oak Papers’ as The Essex Read 2021. James Canton’s beautiful book, inspired by the ancient Honywood Oak in Essex, introduces the reader to the pleasures of tree time – the perfect tonic for a busy life.

You can browse all the recommendations for yourself on the Essex Book Festival’s bookshop page.

7) Staying in with style

Order a wine or beer tasting set on Click it Local

If you’re staying put on Father’s Day with a barbecue or a lunch at home, you could treat your dad to a tasting set.

Click It Local has just been launched in Chelmsford and the service delivers products from your favourite local stores. The English Vine, which champions English wines, offers same and next-day delivery in Chelmsford. If you’re not sure where to start, they say their three-bottle ‘A Taste of East Anglia’ package is a great introduction to an area that’s fast becoming one of England’s best wine-growing regions.

UK craft beer shop Hoppily can also be found on Click It Local. They’re offering several taster boxes covering a wide range of styles from lagers, pale ales and IPAs to stouts and porters. There are also selections of Essex and London’s best vegan beers.

Tell us your plans

We love hearing about what people are up to in Chelmsford. If you have a great day planned or you’re a business with a special Father’s Day offer, let us know in the comments below or on our social media pages.

By Julie Weight

Julie writes stories and creates videos for Chelmsford City Council. Contact her at or on 01245 606984.

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